2

One of my daily websites, gocomics.com, is currently down with an error message:

The requested service is temporarily unavailable. It is either overloaded or under maintenance. Please try later.

Checking the source, I found that it was padded by an extremely long comment (to 798 bytes; 878 bytes with headers; I've wrapped the HTML to make it clearer):

<div style="border: 3px solid #4991C5; font:1.5em; font-family:tahoma,calibri,arial; 
    font-weight:bold; color:#0A4369; padding:5px; margin:10px; 
    text-align:center"> The requested service is temporarily 
    unavailable. It is either overloaded or under maintenance. 
    Please try later.</div><!-- 
    0123456789012345678901234567890123456789012345678901234567890123456789
    0123456789012345678901234567890123456789012345678901234567890123456789
    0123456789012345678901234567890123456789012345678901234567890123456789
    0123456789012345678901234567890123456789012345678901234567890123456789
    0123456789012345678901234567890123456789012345678901234567890123456789
    0123456789012345678901234567890123456789012345678901234567890123456789
    0123456789012345678901234567890123456789012345678901234567890123456789
    012345678901234-->

This strongly suggests that the coder decided to make the raw HTML size larger. What benefit would this have? Modifying the behavior of caches and/or proxies? Catering to behavior of specific browsers?

Edit: wrapped the HTML Edit 2: removed opinion-implying wording

3
  • I'm voting to close as opinion based. There is really no way of knowing. This could be a holder for debug messaging which was not populated maybe.
    – davidgo
    Nov 19 at 21:46
  • @davidgo We have an answer that is clearly not opinion-based. Reopen? Nov 20 at 22:02
  • Questions here are required to be about operating or managing your own website, so unfortunately this can't be reopened. For questions that are about other websites, users often end up guessing or offering opinions that the OP can't really confirm since they don't operate or manage it, which is probably why it was initially closed as opinion-based.
    – dan
    Nov 22 at 1:08

1 Answer 1

3

Internet Explorer (and now maybe Edge?) has a heuristic built in that for error pages that are small. For small error pages, (less than 512 bytes) it doesn't use what the server sends, but rather shows a "friendlier" error page that is hard coded into the browser.

If you want to have your error page shown to all users, it has to be large enough (in bytes) to not trigger this heuristic in Internet Explorer.

Reference from Stack Overflow: Custom HTTP error page is not displayed in Internet Explorer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.